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NICA shares vision for building cities of longevity at Smart City Expo in Barcelona

November 15, 2023

4 people smiling and facing the camera, holding a certificate stating Certificate of Affirmation for the City of Barcelona
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Newcastle upon Tyne, UK – A new global initiative to encourage healthy ageing and longevity in cities has taken a major step forward at the world’s largest conference for smart cities.

The UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) presented its City of Longevity project at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona.

Joined by a delegation of public and private sector organisations from North East England, NICA shared its vision to equip city planners and policymakers with a toolkit for healthy longevity as part of a UK exhibition organised by Department for Business and Trade and Connected Places Catapult.

Smart City Expo was attended by more than 25,000 people from 800 cities in 2023, bringing together the most influential figures in urban design and digital transformation for three days of events, networking and knowledge exchange.

As part of its programme, NICA partnered with the Barcelona City Council on a special offsite event, the Barcelona Meetup, for the founder members of the City of Longevity global community, which was established at the inaugural City of Longevity conference in Newcastle in July 2023.

Professor Nic Palmarini, Director of NICA, chaired a discussion with representatives from Newcastle, Berlin, Barcelona, Cremona and Buenos Aires at the Mercat de Sant Antoni, which is located in a part of the city that has pioneered a new kind of smart city concept, the ‘Superillas’. These are urban spaces built for pedestrians to facilitate a new kind of relationship between communities and the built environment, promoting healthier lifestyles and a sense of place.

Nic said: “After we launched the City of Longevity project in July this year, we received overwhelming feedback from cities around the world who are all grappling with the twin challenges of urbanisation and an ageing demographic.

“What we want to achieve with the City of Longevity is a paradigm shift in how we think about the role of civic institutions and policymakers, moving away from simply building ‘age-friendly’ infrastructure to support people as they age and towards co-designing solutions that can positively influence the behaviour of people over the life course so that they can stay healthier for longer.

“The Barcelona Meetup at Smart City Expo allowed us to show the progress we have made so far and also recruit more cities who share our vision for a longevity society where people can age in place with dignity.”

NICA was supported by Invest Newcastle, part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, at Smart City Expo, with the team attending the conference to promote North East England’s research and innovation assets and attract new inward investment.

Dawn Dunn, Digital and Tech Sector Lead, Invest Newcastle, said: “Smart City Expo is unique in the breadth of perspectives and solutions it brings to bear.

“We heard how technology is being deployed to improve mobility, connectivity and sustainability and it was a pleasure to see NICA talk about how Newcastle is leading the way on longevity and inclusion through the City of Longevity project.

“It is clearer than ever that digital is transforming not just the way we interact with each other, but also the places we live and the infrastructure we use every day.”

Following the Barcelona Meetup, NICA is preparing to launch its City of Longevity toolkit, which leverages artificial intelligence to create a longevity programming interface (LPI) that can suggest smart ways of implementing healthy ageing policies across all sectors of local government.

Developed in partnership with Stanford University’s Centre for Longevity, the toolkit will crowdsource the best solutions from NICA’s community to enable the introduction of culturally specific interventions across areas such as food and nutrition, public transport and active travel, leisure and tourism, culture and community, and business and employment.

To find out more about the City of Longevity, including how you can join the global community and gain early access to the toolkit, please contact

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